Catholic Charities Community Services’ AIDS Services department will receive a $350,000 grant that officials say will help the agency hire five new employees and help its patients better stick to treatment programs.
The grant, which comes from the state Department of Health AIDS Institute, comprises $200,000 for case management and other support services and $150,000 for medical transportation, including bus passes or parking fees for patients who may not receive such assistance from Medicaid. The grant can be renewed for up to four years and is funded through federal Ryan White Program funding, which helps the poor or uninsured who are HIV positive.
"With the state of the economy in the state of New York, any money being released is a relief and a surprise," said Tracy Boff, director of AIDS Services for Catholic Charities Community Services, which serves HIV-positive patients throughout the Diocese of Rochester’s 12 counties, with the majority of patients located in Monroe County. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
The AIDS Services department currently assists 223 clients. It offers Medicaid case management, housing services, non-Medicaid case management and the Families in Transition program, which helps families to prepare for the loss of a caregiver.
Many of those who receive services from CCCS’ AIDS Services qualify for Medicaid. Boff said grants for treatment adherence among people with limited incomes save the state money in the long run because they help HIV-positive patients avoid expensive emergency-department care. The transportation portions of the grant also will have income-eligibility guidelines.
"We’re never going to be paying for services if people have the means to pay for it themselves," Boff said.
The grant may be used to fund some services to those who are in the process of applying for Medicaid, and for interpretation services for refugees seeking treatment, Boff said. She said the case-management programs are intended to help patients better navigate the complex world of HIV-treatment programs.
"It’s not that they don’t want to seek treatment, but it can be a very overwhelming process," Boff said. "They don’t know what questions to ask or what to do. It’s a partnership with your doctor."
New positions funded by the grant will include a case manager, an HIV-education specialist, a program assistant who will assist linguistic-services contractors and a full-time transportation coordinator.
Boff said the size of the grant reflects well on the services that Catholic Charities Community Services provides and the reputation it enjoys with the state Department of Health’s AIDS Institute.
"We think our services do speak for themselves," she said. "We have a great relationship with the AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health. They are very supportive of our programs."